Permanent residency to be introduced
Stricter regulations to govern citizenship
President Michel rejects perception that Seychelles’ passports are given away “indiscriminately”
Starting from this year, the government will be putting in place stricter regulations governing citizenship, and will introduce a system of “permanent residency” guided by well-defined criteria to be established under a new law.
Speaking at the National Assembly on Tuesday in his State of the Nation Address, President James Michel said “there is a perception that we are giving our citizenship indiscriminately” and that the government “needs to protect our citizenship at all cost since it is a fundamental aspect of our heritage.” He said “a foreigner who wishes to become a citizen of Seychelles needs to deserve Seychelles! The foreigner will need to know, understand and appreciate Seychelles, its constitution, its people, its history, its culture, aspirations and heritage! The person will need to be loyal and sincere to Seychelles.”
The new law and policy will specify the criteria, including contributions to the development of the adopted motherland. President Michel said the number of applications for citizenship run on a daily basis in the national newspaper gives the false perception that the government is just giving away Seychelles’ citizenship. However, the fact that so many foreigners are applying for citizenship indicates that the system is very open and that foreigners may have been given the false impression that the country’s citizenship was there for the taking.
An interesting observation was made in January issues of the Seychelles Nation where two separate applications were published made by two different individuals from Eastern Europe.
Both had just entered the country on the same day, and were applying just over a week after their first entry, which they both stated as January 2013. Bearing in mind that an application for citizenship requires filling in a form which must be signed by three sponsors and which itself carries a cost, one can only question the light approach of a foreigner in making such an application under the current citizenship programme.
The new law, President Michel said will also state the conditions for the revocation of citizenship when national interests are threatened. Under the existing Citizenship Act a person who becomes a citizen by registration or naturalisation may be deprived of the citizenship if the Minister is satisfied that the registration or naturalisation was obtained by means of fraud, false representation, or the concealment of any material fact.
However, this is the first time that the possibility of revocation based on national interest is canvassed although the President did not indicate what could be considered “national interest”. It will be recalled though, that there have been several occasions in the past when the image of Seychelles has been placed in jeopardy in instances where Seychelles’ passports have ended up in the hands of people like Radovan Kreijir who left the country under a false passport in the name of one Egbert Savy and was prosecuted for serious crimes in South Africa. In another scandal which erupted late last year, Seychelles was accused of giving passports to two North Koreans operating in a Hong Kong based company, and fronting for illegal arms smuggling that was under investigation by the United Nations. Speaking about the introduction of a new “permanent residency”
President Michel said government will give permanent residency to foreigners who would not normally qualify for citizenship but who have made a significant contribution to the development of the country, who have invested in Seychelles and who wish to reside here, with their own financial means to support themselves.
“They will not enjoy the same rights as Seychellois. They will not, for example, benefit from social security and pension. They will not vote. But they will have the right to reside here, work, invest and engage in business activities that are not reserved for Seychellois,” President Michel said.
The concept of permanent residency has been advocated in the past by opposition parties during debates in the National Assembly in a bid to ensure that Seychelles’ citizenship is not given away but earned.
In its party manifesto, the Seychelles National Party had been a strong advocate of the permanent residency concept, saying that “foreign visitors will be granted long term residency permits to allow them to manage and enjoy their investments but they will not be allowed to vote or be granted nationality.”
Source: today.sc 2-22-13